Levante v Helsingborgs preview

Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez insists La Liga survival comes above the Europa League in his priorities.

Last Updated: 19/09/12 at 21:13   

Martinez: Puts survival ahead of Europe

Martinez: Puts survival ahead of Europe

Levante qualified for their first UEFA club competition after finishing sixth in La Liga last season, and after beating Motherwell home and away in the Europa League play-offs, they begin their group campaign on Thursday with a home match against Swedish champions Helsingborg.

For a side who as recently as 2010 were playing second division football in Spain, retaining their top-flight status this season remains Levante's primary goal, but that does not mean they have little interest in the Europa League.

Coach Martinez, whose side are currently 14th in the table with four points from four games, said today: "We want to enjoy this competition without going overboard, our real goal is to continue being in the Primera next season."

Regarding Thursday's match against Helsingborg, Martinez added: "They are going to make it difficult for us, but we will try to get the three points and have a party for the first European game in front of our fans."

Home-grown defender Juanfran Garcia added: "It's a special game for us but imagine what it's like for the fans. They are experiencing an unforgettable time, the club is in good health and we can now reflect back on the bad times that this club and its fans have had."

Helsingborg make the trip to Spain having finally got back to winning ways following a poor run recently.

They suffered five successive defeats, losing three times in the Allsvenskan and twice to Celtic in the Champions League play-offs, but bounced back in style at the weekend with a 4-0 mauling of GIF Sundsvall.

All four goals came in a 24-minute spell in the second half with Nikola Djurdjic netting a hat-trick as Helsingborg climbed up to fifth spot in the standings, 10 points behind the leaders.

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